I’m reading Anne…

I'm reading Anne Lamott's _Bird by Bird_ (and why didn't any of the people who told me that it was an insightful, fascinating, true book on writing also tell me that it's utterly hilarious? I would have read it much earlier). (This isn't one of the funny bits, though) Listen:

"It is one of the greatest feelings known to humans, the feeling of being the host, of hosting people, of being the person to whom they come for food and drink and company. This is what the writer has to offer." (204)

I love throwing parties, having people to dinner, making tea for someone. I'm good at the details (having an organizational mind helps), and there's some satisfaction in setting pretty table, or having all the dishes come out at the same time, on time, or in decorating the house. But it's really simply providing for people, feeding and watering them, satisfying primal urges in them perhaps better and with more care than they would have for themselves that night -- that's where the real satisfaction lies.

I realized at some point when I was in college that I never said 'thank you' to my mother for making me dinner...and that it was when people thanked me for cooking for them that the hours in the kitchen and the burned heel of my hand and the dishes still to be done and the frustration of the rice that burned and had to be made again, delaying dinner by twenty minutes -- that it was then that it all became worthwhile -- more than worthwhile, actively joyful. I tried to remember to thank my mother, for dinner at least, after that. I often forgot.

Wherever I go, I tend to meet people fairly quickly, and then I start to organize things. Dinners, potlucks, parties, brunches. I love doing this. What startled me about this passage of Lamott is that I have never before connected it with my desire to write.

We are all so alone -- anything that makes us feel more connected is a powerful thing. Anything that lets us know the Other, and lets them know us...the scared, shivering us, hiding in a corner, sure that everyone else is accepted and welcome and known.

I was generally a cheerful child. I think it was only in college, when I realized that everyone felt just as alone and Other as I did that I began to be actually happy. Because, of course, it meant that I was no longer alone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *